Crookston family is not one you'd label as typical.

First, could you just tell us a little bit about yourselves, i.e. family, kids, jobs, education, current positions held, where you're from, etc.

    Eric's answer: Eric and Heidi grew up out West, Eric in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado and Heidi in Pocatello, Idaho.  We met and got married in Anchorage, Alaska.  I was working on a train and Heidi was traveling around and realized that if she made friends with me, I could get her a free train ride.  I did not turn down the offer to get to spend some time with her.  That is how we met.  After we were married I finished a Conservation Biology degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  After graduation we went to school in Manhattan, Kansas, where we fell in love with the prairie and the Midwest.  I got a graduate degree in Landscape Architecture and after graduating I received an offer to work for the University of Minnesota Crookston, teaching in the horticulture program.  We have been happy to call Crookston home.  I love teaching and working at UMC and I love Minnesota winters.  We have been blessed to adopt 3 beautiful children.     

    Heidi's answer: Heidi Lamb Castle -   I was born and raised in Pocatello, Idaho.  I got my bachelors degree at University of Idaho in Psychology.
    After graduation I bought a plane ticket to Alaska. For years I had felt drawn to the beauty of Alaska. The outdoors inspire me- I love mountains, ocean.  
    Men out number women in Alaska, nearly 2:1.  So the odds of meeting a man were good, but I must say the goods are odd.
    I met Eric in AK in June 2000, and although he is definitely odd- we are truly perfect for each other- it was definitely meant to be.   
    Eric and I got married in August 2001. I studied at BYU where I got my K-12 teaching certificate in Special Education.  We then moved to Manhattan, Kansas where I completed my Masters Degree in School Counseling and started my PhD in Counseling.
    Our 3 children bring me joy everyday.  We have also had 26 foster children live in our home over the last decade.  Each child has brought their own unique blessing to our home.  We enjoy fostering children.

When you were approached about participating in this profile, you were told it's in part because you're an "interesting" and somewhat "unique" family in the Crookston community. What are some of the things that you think might make the Castle family interesting or unique?

    Eric's answer: One thing that makes us unique to the Crookston community is our religion.  We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes referred to as the Mormon church.    

    Heidi's answer: We are a mixed race family - I think that is what other people might notice first about us. However, it is funny that I forget that we are different in that way.  When I look at my children, I just see my babies- not their color.  I am color blind. Although we adopted our three children as infants, we also are foster parents.  We have had 26 foster children live in our home over the last decade.  We love fostering, each child is a blessing.  I guess one thing that makes me unique is that I love teens.  I taught 7th and 8th grade for a number of years in Kansas, and I truly love working with teenagers.

A so-called "typical" day in the Castle family might be a little different than the typical day in many other families around these parts. From the moment you get up in the morning until the moment you retire for the evening, what might a typical day for your family, say in early April, consist of? Provide as much, or as little detail as you want.

    Eric's answer: When I get up I help the kids get ready for school, sometimes I make pancakes.  Once the kids are off to school I get myself ready and then either ride my bike or walk to work at UMC.  My day at work is filled with teaching and coordinating research projects.  After work I come home and 2-3 times a week I'll make dinner, which lately consists of making recipes from "How to Cook Indian".  After dinner, I read the kids stories and tuck them in then spend a little time by myself.   

    Heidi's answer: I get up before dawn and teach yoga. I love starting my day this way and have done so for many years.  On the days I don’t teach yoga I often go running.  I love to watch the sunrise.  I also go to bed very early.
Heidi's blog site, "The Lamb Castle," states near the top that "Every Day is Earth Day!" That statement seems to get to the heart of what you as a couple and a family are all about: Respecting, preserving, sustaining, taking care of and enjoying our planet and the great outdoors. These things are clearly passions for you. Can you tell us a little bit about what makes you two tick when it comes to this topic?

    Eric's answer: As humans we are all connected to the earth.  We have deep seated psychological and physical needs that only the earth can provide.  With all the comforts that technology provides it is easy for me to forget that.  I try to remember that every chance I get.  The reason I chose the career path that I have is because I want to focus on helping others to maintain and enhance harmonious relationships with nature in all aspects of their lives.    

    Heidi's answer: I love mother earth, it's true. I love teaching my kids and others to honor and respect the wonderful resources we have.  Gardening, raising back yard chickens, recycling, living sustainable are all passions of mine.    

Heidi has attempted to bring yoga into the Crookston community. To those who know little or nothing about the practice, what could you say to convince them of yoga's benefits and maybe even give it a try? What first lured you to the practice?

    Heidi's answer: Yoga is wonderful. Taking time to live in the moment, release stress, honor your practice, yourself, your creator.  I want to share this with others.

Eric has been known to ride his bicycle to work at the University of Minnesota Crookston on some days when most people would probably complain about even having to drive a car to work. Is the driving force behind that dedication related to exercise and fitness? Is it more about reducing a carbon footprint? Is it about making a point, i.e. showing everyone else that individuals can change their ways and make a difference? Or is it a combination of all of those things? Or are you just slightly crazy?

    Eric's answer: As a teenager, a bicycle was freedom to me. It allowed me to go places I wanted to go, independent of a car.  In college I made a wager with a friend that I would ride my bike the entire school year, and I won.  Ever since then, whenever possible, I have been using a bike to get me places that I need to go.  Although I can drive my own car now, a bicycle still means freedom to me, it allows me to get where I need to go without being dependent on a car.  I like that feeling.  

    Heidi's answer: Eric amazes me.  I often tell people that I married an arctic wolf - a hairy beast that loves cold, snowy weather. I think when it comes down to it - Eric just loves his bike and finds enjoyment with the challenge of riding it year round, the side bonus is that he does make a positive difference. He is a great example to me and others.

You are sort of the poster child for what Crookston leaders see as the type of demographic they want to move to Crookston, stay here, and call this community home: A young, professional couple with kids. Aside from career-related reasons, what makes you stay? What do you like/love about Crookston?

    Eric's answer: We really like small towns.  I like going to the store or riding around town and seeing friends.  As a family we like being able to walk or ride our bikes to anywhere in town.  We like going to community events or going to one of the city parks.  I like walking to the river with my kids to go fishing.  Everything we need is close.  

    Heidi's answer: Many things come to mind when I think of Crookston. The river running through town, University of MN, old town, Widman's, Montegue’s Flower shop, Crookston Running Club, sunrises on the prairie, but more than anything what I love about Crookston is the people.  I love the people of Crookston. There are truly some wonderful gems right here in our community.

Shifting gears a bit, if you could change three things in Crookston, what might those three things be? If you'd prefer to answer the question a little differently, what do you think are the three biggest challenges facing Crookston right now?

    Eric's answer: One thing I was surprised of when we moved here was the disconnection to the river.  There is this amazing resource winding through the community and there are very few places that you can actually see the river.  I'd like to see more recreational use of the river.  

Do you have any interesting and/or unique hobbies, quirks or talents/abilities that people outside of your inner circle more than likely are unaware of? If so, do you mind sharing them with the masses?

    Eric's answer: I'm learning to play the banjo, I like to cook, and I like board games.

    Heidi's answer: I can name all the US presidents in chronological order in less than 20 seconds.  Lol.  Ask me next time you see me I am glad to oblige.   :)  I have visited 47 US states and hope to make it to all 50 soon. I love writing.  Especially poetry.
Children are often referred to as sponges because they soak up so much of what they are exposed to every day. What are some of the things you hope your kids absorb each day?

    Eric's answer: Wow there are so many things I hope that they learn.  If I had to pick just three right now I would say I hope my kids learn to be confident, kind, and respectful.

    Heidi's answer: Albert Einstein said:  “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another it is the only means."  What pressure for parents.  As a parent, more than anything I want my children to be happy. My hope is to teach them to be kind to others, to respect our planet, and be contributing members of society.  I love my kids more than life itself, and still I make lots of mistakes. I just keep trying to be the best parent I can.